Most of us think that "natural" is code for better. Unfortunately, just as there are good and bad synthetic ingredients, there are good and bad natural ones. To help you with your selection, top skin-care experts share the natural ingredients that have been proven to be the most effective. These natural wonders can help battle breakouts, soothe irritation, treat uneven pigmentation, and even prevent sun damage, in some cases.
Beta Carotene Helps Protects Against Sun Damage
Red, orange, and yellow fruits and veggies, like carrots, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins, are packed with beta carotene, a nutrient with many benefits for your skin. Your body converts beta carotene into vitamin A an essential nutrient for healing wounds, protecting against sun damage, and encouraging cell turnover.
"Topical beta carotene has antioxidant benefits on the skin, and research has reported that it improves discoloration due to melasma.
Green Tea Extract Is an Excellent Anti-Inflammatory for Skin
This healthy drink contains high levels of antioxidant chemicals — including catechins, such as epigallocatechin gallate, and flavonoids, such as kaempferol and theaflavin — to help prevent and reverse UV to damage the skin explains Neal Schultz, MD, a dermatologist in New York City and creator of BeautyRx Skincare. These same chemicals make green tea an excellent natural anti-inflammatory and skin soothing ingredient in skin care.
Licorice Extract Helps Treat Redness and Rosacea
The anti-inflammatory properties of licorice extract make this one of the best natural ingredients to to treat redness. And the plant has also been shown to reduce uneven pigmentation by blocking the production of melanin. Dr. Wu suggests looking for licorice extract in eye treatments because one study found that a cream containing the ingredient helped lighten dark under eye circles.
Oats Soothe Eczema and Other Skin Irritation
Colloidal oatmealis one of the few natural ingredients that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved to treat skin irritations, such as ezcema, dry skin poison oak, and insects bites says Wu. "Oat lipids and proteins help replenish and maintain the skin barrier," she explains, "and oats contain anti-inflammatory and antioxidant chemicals."
Look for colloidal oatmeal, which Wu explains has the greatest benefits and the most research behind it.
Soy Helps Brighten Dull Skin and Is a Good Alternative to Stronger Prescription Products
"Look for this ingredient if you'd like your skin to look brighter and more even-toned," Wu says. "Topical soy has been shown to lighten discoloration due to melasma and sun damage by inhibiting skin's overproduction of melanin skin pigment."
Soy-based products are a particularly good option for those looking for an alternative to prescription-strength ingredients, like retinoids.
Vitamin C Helps Battle Aging and Sagging Skin
You may think of vitamin C as an essential defense against the common cold but the nutrient also battles the common signs of aging skin: sagging and dullness. Vitamin C aids in collagen synthesis, which is essential for firmness and smoothness, Wu explains. Plus, it has antioxidant benefits to help fight free-radical damage, and lightens dark spots. As if this little vitamin didn't already work hard enough, C can also regulate sebum production to prevent acne and decrease inflammation.
Not only should you eat plenty of citrus fruits to ensure your skin benefits from vitamin C, look for it in serums to maximize the antioxidant powers on the surface of your skin.
Willow Herb Has Anti-Microbial and Antiseptic Properties
Willow herb, a wildflower, is a unique anti-microbial, anti-irritant, and natural antiseptic that has long been used to sooth common skin irritations, including rosacea and eczema.
One of the little flower's benefits includes the ability to kill Propionibacterium acnes bacteria, the nasty microbes that cause acne, which makes the natural ingredient a great option for treating breakouts
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